Saratoga County

Retrial starts Monday in Halfmoon stabbing case

A Halfmoon woman whose attempted murder conviction was overturned on appeal earlier this year will g
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A Halfmoon woman whose attempted murder conviction was overturned on appeal earlier this year will go on trial for a second time starting Monday in Saratoga County Court.

Lydia Salce, now 54, was convicted at a jury trial in 2013 of second-degree attempted murder in the stabbing of her then-husband, Michael McKee, in 2011. She was also convicted of first-degree assault and was sentenced to 16 years in prison.

In January, however, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court in Albany overturned the conviction and ruled Salce should have a new trial because of rulings made by former County Court Judge Jerry Scarano.

The charges against Salce stemmed from an alleged incident Aug. 11, 2011, when police said a violent physical fight took place between the couple at their home on Halfmoon. Salce was punched in the face and McKee was stabbed multiple times with a 4- or 5-inch “combat knife,” according to the appellate ruling. A doctor testified McKee had 14 cut or stab wounds and was hospitalized for a week.

Salce claimed self-defense, while McKee said he was attacked after returning from a night of drinking with biker friends and only punched Salce to defend himself.

According to testimony at the first trial, Salce was unhappy McKee — to whom she had been married only a few months — was spending so much time with members of a motorcycle club known as the Prisoners of Fate, which McKee hoped to join, and co-workers heard her make threatening statements.

The Jan. 8 Appellate Division ruling found the trial evidence was “legally sufficient” to support the attempted murder and first-degree assault convictions, but it overturned the convictions because Scarano did not allow a defense expert to testify.

The defense expert would have testified that McKee’s wounds were not inconsistent with Salce defending herself, according to the ruling.

“Given the sharply conflicting proof on this key factual issue at trial and the testimony by police … defendant should have been permitted to have her expert testify,” the appellate court stated.

The ruling also faulted Scarano’s charge to the jury for not explaining the “duty to retreat” when threatened, although it doesn’t apply in one’s own home.

Acting Saratoga County Court Judge Matthew J. Sypniewski will have to make his own ruling should the defense again seeking to offer an expert.

Jury selection is scheduled to start at 10 a.m. Monday. Assistant District Attorney Michele Schettino is prosecuting, and First Assistant Public Defender Andrew Blumenberg is representing Salce.

Categories: Schenectady County

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